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Default EA - Pandemic Closed, Van Caneghem Joins

November 17th, 2009, 22:42
There is no direct connection with RPGs here but industry watchers will be interested to know that EA will close Pandemic Studios, with the founders already let go last week. Our interest comes, of course, because BioWare and Pandemic "merged" some time back after venture capital group Elevation Partners purchased them both to form a "super studio". Later, EA bought the parent company, VG Holdings, thus acquiring both studios.
While there is absolutely no indication of any effect on BioWare, critics will no doubt observe EA's long history of buying, then closing studios.
Gamasutra has this news, with excerpts from an internal EA memo. As a side note, Jon Van Carneghem of Might & Magic fame has joined to manage the Command and Conquer RTs brand.
Thanks to Lucky Day for a similar submission.
More information.
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November 17th, 2009, 22:42
So EA is like the grim reaper? Bioware better look out.
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November 17th, 2009, 23:59
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
So EA is like the grim reaper? Bioware better look out.
Here's a thread from Kotaku on this:

http://kotaku.com/5406830/confirmed-…d-will-live-on

I don't think Bioware has anything to worry about, though. The PS3 and Xbox 360 version of DA: Origins has already sold over 500,000 copies; Steam, Impulse and D2D reports that this game, DA: Origins, is either #1 or # 2 for legally bought and downloaded games.

As for EA closing studios, I somewhat always expected them to close down Pandemic Studios; they've mainly bought Elevation Partners for Bioware, I find.

The (big) difference being that Bioware can manage money, it seems. Pandemic couldn't. At least according to some posts in the thread from Kotaku.

In an economic crisis, corporations will do away with what is not making (enough) money to prevent that the loss of money spreds (to far) into the main corparation,
i.e. EA. Any corporation must cut costs in the face an economic crisis. EA is no different. In that sense, EA is like the Grim Reaper, harvesting what is good, and leaving the leftovers to go somewhere else. It's harsh, but it's reality.

Gamers that love to make game for the fans really needs someone to manage their money for them, else they will just spent 20 millions dollars on something completely not gaming relevant. A plan is needed when you make a game; Bioware seems to be better planner and managed company than Pandemic.

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November 18th, 2009, 00:10
I hate to keep beating this poor horse, but he can't feel it because he's dead. Why the fuck does something that nerds used to do in their basements now cost 20 million dollars? There's got to be some way to control these costs. Blah blah blah, there's just got to be.
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November 18th, 2009, 01:10
God I loved BattleZone. What a great game, Pandemic did a real nice job.

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November 18th, 2009, 01:21
Did you see this

"EA UK boss Keith Ramsdale said that the future of the single-player experience is over. It struck me as an odd thing to say in the week Dragon Age: Origins, a hugely in-depth single-player RPG, is released."

from here?

http://www.videogamer.com/news/drago…ay_muzyka.html
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November 18th, 2009, 01:34
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
I hate to keep beating this poor horse, but he can't feel it because he's dead. Why the fuck does something that nerds used to do in their basements now cost 20 million dollars? There's got to be some way to control these costs. Blah blah blah, there's just got to be.
If you want the kind of game that someone can do on a budget, try the Avernum series. That's about the quality you can get with a tiny team.

I'm not saying that Avernum is bad, in fact I like it.

It's like comparing a great blockbuster movie with all the special effects vs a great movie shown only at the Sundance film festival which then goes straight to video rentals.
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November 18th, 2009, 06:08
That isn't true since most games from the time before the heavy rise in costs to produce them look better then Avernum. Also there are a few games done by indie developers that look really good but don't cost a lot to make. (I'm not talking about graphical quality on par with modern expensive games) One example is Mount & Blade which looks better then Morrowind did.

PS. There are other games but I don't play non-crpgs and some games that are being made currently by indie developers are really good looking. Indie games are going to get better looking as time goes along because of cheaper and free middleware in development. (torque engine)
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November 18th, 2009, 09:48
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
That isn't true since most games from the time before the heavy rise in costs to produce them look better then Avernum. […] Indie games are going to get better looking as time goes along because of cheaper and free middleware in development. (torque engine)
Hmmm, being an, ahem… industry veteran of sorts, let me correct your observation somewhat:
In the heyday of the 90's, most AAA-games were just as expensive to make as today (Wing Commander 3/4's multi-millon dollar budget comes to mind).
As the technology betters and expectations rises, obviously, even more money is needed for developing a AAA game today.

As for the indie business: indies have one luxury that a corporate-driven development couldn't ever afford: they could tinker the game for ages, and release it as they see fit. If they have money to burn, they develop it a bit, if they are on budget, development will halt. Budget-wise, this is very low-risk, but the release date is as hectic as it gets (Vince, do you hear me? ).

If you are working for a corporate giant, i.e. EA, you have to meet very tight marketing deadlines, thus, you have to hire more personnel to do the immense amount of work required for a AAA-game nowadays.
(Interesting trivia: UBI's Assassin Creed II' dev team is reportedly larger than 400
people!)
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November 18th, 2009, 11:19
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
There is no direct connection with RPGs here but industry watchers will be interested to know that EA will close Pandemic Studios, with the founders already let go last week. Our interest comes, of course, because BioWare and Pandemic "merged" some time back after venture capital group Elevation Partners purchased them both to form a "super studio". Later, EA bought the parent company, VG Holdings, thus acquiring both studios.
While there is absolutely no indication of any effect on BioWare, critics will no doubt observe EA's long history of buying, then closing studios.
Gamasutra has this news, with excerpts from an internal EA memo. As a side note, Jon Van Carneghem of Might & Magic fame has joined to manage the Command and Conquer RTs brand.
Thanks to Lucky Day for a similar submission.
More information.
So Jon Van Canegem is going to be working with the 'Command and Conquer' franchise?

I have to retreat to a dark corner with and wrap myself in my +10 invisibility cloak, thank you very much.
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November 18th, 2009, 11:24
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
God I loved BattleZone. What a great game, Pandemic did a real nice job.
Best ev3er. RTS/3d shooter hybrid. I loved those games both original and sequel. Too bad they didnt continue the series.

Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Did you see this

"EA UK boss Keith Ramsdale said that the future of the single-player experience is over. It struck me as an odd thing to say in the week Dragon Age: Origins, a hugely in-depth single-player RPG, is released."

from here?
http://www.videogamer.com/news/drago…ay_muzyka.html
Bosses of many companies often say many things that dont amount to much. Somtimes I think that bosses dont really know much about anything. Some bosses are actually happy that they dont need to know. They just repeat stuff that som other people have told them as the "truth" and somtimes that makes them look like idiots.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou
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November 18th, 2009, 12:06
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
That isn't true since most games from the time before the heavy rise in costs to produce them look better then Avernum. Also there are a few games done by indie developers that look really good but don't cost a lot to make. (I'm not talking about graphical quality on par with modern expensive games) One example is Mount & Blade which looks better then Morrowind did.
Well, can you give an example of a low-cost game made by a few nerds in a basement that looks better than Avernum? Not saying it's not there, but what games are you thinking of?

Regarding your other observation - clever (and skilled) indie developers might produce games where the *individual* assets looks really great - even better than commercial titles. But the *amount* of content is then probably much less. For example, Mount&Blade might look better than Morrowing, but I'm very sure it does not have even a fraction of the content that MW has.

Still, I have the deepest respect for indie developers who understands that they cannot compete on the amount of content, and yet manages to get around that fact in a clever way. Take the "Penumbra" series for example (a horror action/adventure game) - I think those games looks (and plays) really great… but they *do* re-use the same underground corridors and probs, there are very few character/creature models and all story is presented through audio and text logs (a very cheap way to present a story, from a production point of view).
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November 18th, 2009, 12:11
Van Caneghem worked on some of the best games ever created, but I haven't seen anything serious from him in.. 10 years? Also, I thought the C&C franchise was ending with C&C 4 (at least the story is supposed to come to an end).

A strange twist, but I'll be interested in seeing how it turns out. Hopefully, VC can still add something to the gaming industry.
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November 18th, 2009, 13:52
Originally Posted by duerer View Post
As for the indie business: indies have one luxury that a corporate-driven development couldn't ever afford: they could tinker the game for ages, and release it as they see fit. If they have money to burn, they develop it a bit, if they are on budget, development will halt. Budget-wise, this is very low-risk, but the release date is as hectic as it gets (Vince, do you hear me? ).
Star Wars was almost halted as well.

In my opinion the underlying philosophy of seeing games as "wares" and not as games, as simple "tools to generate profits" and not as a thing one can play with, is the problem.

Here we have a thing that is in its essence not material in any way turned and bent to comply to laws of a materialistic world - to obey to the rules of people that see EVERYTHING in a materialistic way. Even simple play.

This philosophy imho affects the game development. Games are developed witrh the aim in mind to "generate as much profits as possible", at least in huge companies, and NOT with having in mind such non-profitable concepts as "fun".

ONLY if such concepts as "fun" can enhance the generating of profits …

In short, game development has become … it's like a sheer mass of people who are standing in an arena and turning their bodies and looks to a plate on which lies a bar of pure gold.
And THEN they do everything in their whole town to be able to afford this bar of gold …
Which will mean that such an "outlook" on this materialistic wealth directs all of their deeds - implicitely or explicitely, no matter. They will just leave behind everything that hinders them from getting to that bar of gold. And that also means: Everything that they consider superflous or how this word is spelled. And that means : Concepts like "fun", like "embellishment", concepts like "simple play".
And in the end it is everything not measureable by materialistic means. Everything spiritual, like "fun" and "play".

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 18th, 2009, 15:05
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
I hate to keep beating this poor horse, but he can't feel it because he's dead. Why the fuck does something that nerds used to do in their basements now cost 20 million dollars? There's got to be some way to control these costs. Blah blah blah, there's just got to be.
It can be done, and it has been done. Not talking about 'indie' games like Avernum. There is a middle ground, games made with a reasonable team. Examples: Drakensang, King's Bounty.

Now, notice how both examples I could conjure up were made outside the US. I wonder if the problem is in the US, where mega corporations like EA and Atari swallow up the little fish…
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November 18th, 2009, 16:55
Corporations like EA need to make money, hence they need to make a (big) profit when releasing games like DA: Origins. A small team like the ones working on Drakensang, King's Bounty and the Eschalon games don't need this. They just need to get their invested money back, so they can put them into making more games. That's the difference between an indie developer and a big corporation.

They operate in two different markets; EA operates in a capitalistic market in which they need a high return rate of their investment (ROI-rate) where the team behind e.g. Drakensang just need to break even - and can release the game when they see fit to do so.

As for Bioware being owned by EA, I just have the intuitive feeling that if Bioware hadn't join EA, the company would have been in big trouble financially.

And as said before, Bioware is delivering, it it a well managed company, the leaders seem to know what they're doing, planning ahead, they're not using all the money given in place or at one time like other companies might do.

And DA: Origins do sell fairly well - or very good…

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November 18th, 2009, 18:31
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Why the fuck does something that nerds used to do in their basements now cost 20 million dollars?
Looking a Jeff Minter's latest work, he appears to be still making games in his bedroom.

It'd certainly be a more interesting market for the gamer if the big boys stopped playing 'Hollywood blockbuster' and spread their capital across a wider range of smaller projects. Modest budget, niche games are profitable. Sin of a Solar Empire is a good example. Developed with a budget of less than one million US dollars, it can hold it's on with AAA titles in terms of production values, and has sold at least 500,000 units.
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November 18th, 2009, 19:13
I also think you have to look at who your customers are and what you are willing to do to keep them Pandemic is resposible for the mess that was LOTR Battlefront. It shipped with far less features then they promised, was buggy and then they decided to screw the PC gamer by not offering them DLC content. I am not surprised they are gone. They had ample time to take care of the PC customers but opted not to. Dragon Age showed the PC market is very viable.
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November 18th, 2009, 19:17
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
That isn't true since most games from the time before the heavy rise in costs to produce them look better then Avernum. Also there are a few games done by indie developers that look really good but don't cost a lot to make. (I'm not talking about graphical quality on par with modern expensive games) One example is Mount & Blade which looks better then Morrowind did.
What he said. Thank you for bringing up M&B, it's the perfect indie answer to bloated AAA games. It doesn't have the content of Morrowind, true, but since they're entirely different games that's like comparing apples to oceanliners. How many years were players griping about how they wanted mounted combat before M&B, but it just couldn't be done?

One of the problems driving AAA costs through the stratosphere is that they're chained to their graphics requirements. Not having the latest & greatest graphics is always the first strike against indie developers, but indies have the advantage of being able to rejuvenate all the other atrophied aspects of computer games, like writing and game mechanics.

Avernum frequently comes up as the great indie success story, but please let's not use it as some kind of graphics standard. If we're going to set a bar for graphics within an indie budget, how about Eschalon?

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November 18th, 2009, 21:47
I'm a bit surprised with free tools out there available today we're not seeing more indie games. Engines like Ogre3d & someone mentioned torque. Blend, gimp, audigy, etc. Now with steam, d2d & impulse there's finally a way to sell a few copies without needing a publisher.

Avernum needs to make an investment and move to a simple 3d engine, it's time.

I keep threatening to use the aforementioned tools to create something but I always seem to get hung up on the skills I don't have. For instance, when it comes to 3d modeling I haven't a clue. And since it's not my full time ( or even part time ) job, it's difficult to put together or coordinate an actual team with the desire and time to commit to producing something worth publishing.
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